Fatwa from Dar al-Mustafa, Yemen
This fatwa was requested by Muhammad Ridha Payne to the Shafi'i fuqaha of Dar al-Mustafa in Yemen.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
To the Shaykhs sitting on the Council for Legal Verdicts at Dar al-Mustafa, Allah bless you.
I have a company dealing in meat in Britain and we are prohibited from slaughtering before stunning the animal. The stunning is carried out by exposing the animal to an electric shock which causes it not to feel the pain of the slaughter. The effects of the shock last twenty seconds, and then the animal returns to its natural state. Some Muslims doubt whether this method is lawful (halal) so my question is: is this method lawful?
All praise is due to Allah
The answer is, and Allah knows best what is correct:
Exposing the animal to an electric shock is unlawful in itself. As for the legality of the meat if the situation is as the questioner described - that the animal recovers and returns to its natural state twenty seconds after having been stunned - then it is lawful (halal) even the animal is in a lifeless state at the time of slaughter (such that it cannot see or hear and is unable to move). This is because the shock in itself is not a cause of the animal's death.
However, if the animal does not usually return to its natural state after being stunned then the meat is unlawful unless one is reasonably certain that the animal is alive at the time of slaughter, evidence of which would be things such as violent movement, the gushing or spurting of blood or a sound coming from the throat or any other signs. It is not necessary to be absolutely certain that the animal is still alive because what is required by the Sacred Law in this instance is that there be some signs of life in the animal at the time of slaughter . However if one is unsure whether the animal is alive or not at the time of slaughter the meat would then be unlawful.
This is a summary of what the people of knowledge have said on this issue, may Allah have mercy on them, and Allah knows best what is correct.
Issued by the Council for Legal Verdicts at Dar al-Mustafa for Islamic Studies.
11th Dhu'l-Qaida 1427
7th December 2006